Janet Yellen’s Gesture Of Respect Draws Criticism During China Visit


Key Points

Janet Yellen, the United States Secretary of the Treasury, embarked on a visit to China, during which a moment of her shaking hands with Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng on the 8th caught attention. Yellen’s gesture of bowing three times, intended as a friendly gesture, sparked widespread criticism from American netizens, with some scholars even claiming it was an act that “made America lose face.”


The Meeting and the Controversial Gesture

According to Fox News, Yellen’s third-day itinerary in Beijing included a meeting with Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng. The captured footage showed Yellen immediately extending her hand upon entering the conference room, and He Lifeng reciprocated the handshake. During the handshake, Yellen noticeably leaned forward, nodding her head, and even “bowed three times.” Yellen, who is relatively shorter in stature, looked up into He Lifeng’s eyes. Although the entire interaction was not prolonged, Yellen’s intention to convey friendliness and warmth was evident.

Criticism and Reactions

However, the released footage triggered extensive criticism from netizens and scholars. Bradley Blakeman, who previously served as a senior White House official during President George W. Bush’s administration, referred to Yellen’s gesture as “quite inappropriate.” He emphasized that “American officials should never, ever, ever bow,” further stating that Yellen seemed like she had been summoned to the principal’s office.


Similar sentiments were echoed by Twitter users, describing Yellen’s behavior as “awkward” and claiming it had “embarrassed America.” Author Max Murray mentioned that Yellen failed to understand that bowing, as a U.S. official, goes against protocol, and the other party would not reciprocate. He Lifeng even stepped back to give her more space. Additionally, another author, James Lacy, sarcastically remarked, “Yellen’s blunder in China did nothing to help Monday morning’s U.S. stock market. It’s time to go home!”

Conclusion: Mixed Reactions to Janet Yellen’s Gesture

Janet Yellen’s bowing gesture during her meeting with Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng has stirred controversy and drawn criticism from American netizens and scholars. While Yellen intended to display friendliness, her action of bowing three times was seen as inappropriate and demeaning to the United States. The incident has sparked a debate on the appropriate conduct for American officials in international settings. The mixed reactions highlight the importance of cultural sensitivities and diplomatic protocols when engaging in international diplomacy.